New Jersey today joined the growing list of states that are de-prioritizing four-year college degrees when hiring for state jobs, with Gov. Phil Murphy signing an executive order directing the state Civil Service Commission (CSC) to revise and reduce educational requirements for a wide range of state jobs.
“We are tearing down the so-called paper ceiling,” Murphy said at a press conference alongside acting CSC head Allison Chris Myers. “Arbitrary degree requirements have left countless smart and talented New Jerseyans at a distinct disadvantage in the labor market and the workplace… It is past time we stop looking at a college degree as the only arbiter of success.”
The order specifically directs the CSC to, within six months, identify which jobs should have skills and employment history valued higher than educational background.
Murphy said that the CSC estimates there are around 2,000 state job titles which currently require a four-year college degree; it’s not clear how many jobs those titles cover. Some positions will of course have to remain exclusive to those with degrees – deputy attorney generals will still need to have law degrees, for example – but many others will likely see their degree requirements melt away.
Byron Auguste, the president of the non-profit Opportunity@Work, joined Murphy at the press conference and said he hopes that private companies in New Jersey will follow the state’s lead.
“As Governor Murphy and the state government lead the way to the Next New Jersey, I think we’ll see many more of New Jersey’s great companies make the same move,” he said.
Murphy’s order puts New Jersey in league with a number of other states – including North Carolina, Maryland, Utah, Alaska, and Colorado – that have taken similar steps. Most prominently, neighboring Gov. Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania signed an executive order immediately after taking office that eliminates degree requirements across state government, which Murphy seemed to take as a particular inspiration.
“If I may quote Governor Shapiro, ‘The people should decide what path is best for them, not have it decided by some arbitrary requirement or any arbitrary limitation,’” Murphy said today.